Friday, October 08, 2010


I've known the amiable French musician Jean-Sebastien Héry - or Zhang Si'an, as he's known in Chinese style - for some years now, but he keeps on surprising me with the variety of his work.

His '60s-style psychedelic blues-rock outfit, The Amazing Insurance Salesmen, romped to victory in the Beijing instalment of this year's World Battle Of The Bands competition a few weeks ago, but he's almost always got a number of other bands and projects on the go as well.  Last night he was debuting a new formation of his Zhang Si'an group (extended from a duo to a full four-piece, with a lot of new or re-worked material) for a small but appreciative audience at Jiangjinjiu (one of my favourite music  bars, because it's right on my doorstep).  And it was an absolutely awesome show, one of the best I've seen this year.  The only disappointment was that they only played one set - although it was a pretty long one, around 70 minutes.

Now, I liked the original version of Zhang Si'an, where it was just Jean-Seb on his guitar and Ubuul on his hand drum, mostly very free-form and folksy.  I hope we'll see more of that.  And I wonder if this new group might not have a tendency to converge with The Insurance Salesmen - very different songs at the moment, but similar in sound in many ways.  But damn, J-S, you can have as many bands as you like if they're all this good!

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